tv BBC World News WHUT July 18, 2012 7:00am-7:30am EDT
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overtaking the diplomacy? >> hello and welcome to gmt. i am george alagiah, with a world of news and opinion. also in the program -- north korea's leader as another title to his name as he consolidates power. kim jong-un becomes a marshal, of the country's highest military rank. the startling results of eight research into our exercise habits. it is midday in london, 7:00 a.m. in washington, and 2:00 in the afternoon in damascus, where the conflict appears to have reached a new level. in the last hour, it has been confirmed by state tv that the defense minister was among the victims of a suicide bombing at the national security building
in the syrian capital. the blast occurred during a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior officials. it is latest attack in the city and follows four straight days of clashes, what rebels are calling the battle for damascus. jim muir reports. >> fire's coming ever closer to the center of the regime's power. helping to bar the presidential palace below. now, confirmation that the defense minister has been killed in a suicide attack on an important security meeting in the city. reports from officials say the other top security figures are seriously injured. it is a blow to the very heart of the regime. clashes and skirmishing has continued in several parts of the city, mainly in the southwest and northeast of the center. activists say government forces have used tanks and artillery.
the rebel forces are likely armed. [speaking foreign language] syrian state media have played down the fighting in the capital. television showed these pictures of troops on the corners of deserted streets on the southern edge of the city center. the clashes in damascus began on sunday in the south side of town, spreading rapidly. they later broke out on the other side of the city. residents said some of the affected districts have been surrounded by troops and tanks. >> tanks are shelling everything, shooting residential houses, shooting every moving thing. people are trying to run away. now, the movement is officially to the south, -- closed
completely. >> activists say at least a dozen people have been killed in the cities so far, and dozens other wounded. international diplomacy is moving with the security council about to meet on syria. >> my sincere hope is the members of the security council will be able to discuss with a sense of urgency and take collective action, a sense of unity. we cannot go on like this. so many people have lost their lives. >> the big powers are deadlocked. there is little hope of a unified international response that could pull the country back from the brink. despite the government crackdown, defiance continues both here in damascus and in the outlying countryside, where some approach roads to the capital were blocked. the rebels are clearly sensing
victory, though it may be a long time coming. >> > >jim muir now from beirut. the defense minister is dead. i gather the information minister is critically ill after this suicide bombing. this is beginning to look like a heavy blow for the regime, is it not? >> this is a blow to the very heart of the security establishment, not just the defense minister killed, but also the president's brother-in- law, who is another i security official has been reported, but not confirmed, to be dead. certainly very injured. other top officials -- possibly the interior minister. rumors are going around. we are not getting confirmation. we're dealing with a very secretive regime. obviously, we are waiting for official word for anything. we are not going to get much
apart from that. the defense ministry is about to make a press conference very shortly at which it will presumably, obviously, mourn the defense minister, but perhaps give more details of exactly how this bomb was managed -- was smuggled into this major security building where this top-level security meeting was going on. it is a huge blow to the security establishment and to the heart of president assad's regime. >> we're looking at archives of the defense minister as we speak. we've obviously got to be very careful about this. is it fair to say that what we are seeing, this latest attack and the four days of fighting in damascus, that it represents some kind of turning point in this conflict? >> i think we've seen things move up to a different level. it seems to be fast forwarding. not just the attack, the
violence in damascus. we've seen a barracks overlooking the presidential palace set on fire overnight. we are not sure how that happened. clearly, there's a sense of things happening both from the side of the activists in terms of the activities on the ground, but these actions that may have come from inside the regime itself. there are certainly rumors that it could have been the defense bodyguard that blew up the meeting. the feeling is that things are moving and starting to move very fast. to keep it in perspective, in military terms, the main centers of the regime power have not come under direct attack. the skirmishes in some parts of the damascus, the fires have definitely come to the capital. now we have this blow in the very heart of the establishment. it is -- it could still be quite some time before things either crumbled enough from within the regime, or pressure from
without to bring it down. >> though this is a long game and it could be weeks or possibly months, it does look as if the diplomacy is kind of running to catch up and never quite there. >> at the moment, i would say the diplomacy is not even running. it's going around in circles. there's no sense at all of a consensus coming out of all the intensive diplomacy of the last few days. as the security council moves toward an inevitable boat on syria, it has to take a resolution before the end of the week -- inevitable vote on syria, it has to take a resolution before the end of the week, yet there's no agreement. they are completely at loggerheads. holding syria back from the brink of disaster -- the disaster is moving. it was moving in slow motion and now it seems to be speeding up.
>> thank you very much. thank you. the north korean leader, kim jong-un, has been named marshal of the army, the country's top military rank. it adds to his glittering array of titles and cements his grip on power. the young leader has been working steadily to impose his own stance on the top leadership of north korea. on sunday, he ousted the country's leading military figures. lucy williamson reports. >> six months into the job of north korean leader, kim jong- un is still collecting titles. his resume is already a little top-heavy. commander, head of the party, and now, the latest top job to be added to his portfolio, marshal of the north korean army. in practice, it's north korea's top position. the title is only awarded to leaders after death.
kim jong-un knows how important the military is in north korea. for years, he and his father have been pictured next two uniformed officials -- next to uniformed officials. also, this man was promoted. he is not wde of north korea, but his promotion and that of his leader points to changes at the heart of north korea's power structure. a bid perhaps by kim jong-un to stamp his authority on the new regime. the question then is, what he will do with it. recent pictures of a young woman have fuelled speculation that he is a modernizer. it could simply be, like his father, he has already learned control in north korea is about controlling the army. >> in french architect who was
being held in cambodia with alleged links to a major chinese political scandal has been flown to shanghai. patrick devillers reportedly had close dealings with disgraced official bo xilai and his wife, who was accused in the murder of a businessman. the boy scouts of america has reaffirmed its position of banning gay scouts and scout leaders following a two-year review. the review was sparked when the youth organization caught criticism of its anti-gay policy. a female skill leader was recently dismissed for being gay. the indian actor credited with firstbollywood's superstar has died. khanna had a huge fan base and was best known for his romantic roles in tragedies. he starred in more than 160 movies and was elected to
parliament in the 1990's. a moderate centrist group has won the largest number of seats allocated to political parties in libya's first free election in decades. the man who served as interim prime minister following the uprising against colonel gaddafi led the national forces alliance to victory with 39 seats. the muslim brotherhood's political wing came in second with 17. smaller factions won the other 24 seats. the balance of power is still unclear. the majority of the seats have been reserved for independent candidates, not political parties. joining me from tripoli is rana jawad. we have not gotten the full picture in terms of the whole assembly. how significant is the first stage of voting? >> for normal libyans, it is very significant.
a lot of people you talk to say they simply voted for an autocrat, a policy maker. they do not want to be preached to by any party that was campaigning on a religious platform. to them, they feel like they voted for a party or an alliance that will take them forward toward what they call modernity and resolve a lot of issues that they're looking forward to being resolved in a post-revolution country. >> how independent are the so- called independent candidates? i was reading that the muslim brotherhood think they might gain support amongst these 120 seats reserved for them. >> that is not clear at the moment. it makes it kind of dangerous for us to track on that ground, just to has the majority in these upcoming national
assembly, which is made up of two hundred members. 120 seats are for the so-called independent candidates. we do not know how they are aligned. others are being convinced over the last seven to eight days, as people took to the polls here, to either join the muslim brotherhood party, or the alliance led by the former interim prime minister. many assumed that independent candidates are more likely to go toward the winning party at the moment. it makes more sense. the muslim brotherhood members may gain a lot more seats than many expect. they do not think it will get a majority of any sort. they feel the assembly is played out in such a way that no one party will come out as a leading force. rather, they will eventually
share it in some sort of grand coalition. >>. . thank you very much. being a couch potato is as bad for your help as smoking, according to new research published to coincide with the olympics. a lack of exercise is causing 5 million deaths per year globally. that's as many as caused by cigarettes. >> exercise is the miracle medicine that can benefit every part of the body. that health message is simply not getting through, according to an international team of researchers. they estimate that one in 10 deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer are a result of inactivity. >> because it is such a common risk factor for many of the common diseases that we suffer from, on balance, if you are physically inactive, your risk
of premature mortality is probably comparable to that of smoking adults are meant to do two and a half hours of moderate activity every beat, like cycling or brisk walking. two out of three in the uk do not manage that. >> she has her held back on track now that she is more active. a century lifestyle over many years led her to develop type two diabetes. >> the thing is that i have some fantastic medical advice from my doctor and minors, who basically said you have to put together a program to work with this disease, which will be with you for the rest of your life. >> with the olympics just days away and athletes are arriving all the time, most of the world will soon be spending hours in front of the tv watching elite sports. the researchers say we cannot all be champions, but we can extend our lives if we choose to
be more active. >> still to come on gmt -- we will take you back to where the modern olympic games began 160 years ago as part of our olympic coast guard series. >> police in the uk have charged the air to the multibillion-dollar empire with preventing the lawful and decent burial of his wife's body. she was found dead in their west london home by police last week. the couple had a long history of drug abuse. >> they were one of britain's richest couples. last week, she was found dead in the chelsea home she shared with her billionaire husband. the heir was stopped in his car by police last sunday, suspected
of driving under the influence of drink and drugs. >> when police are right here, they found the body of his wife. he has now been charged with preventing the waffle and decent burial of his wife. police say they are treating the death of mrs. rausing as unexplained. >> the couple met in the 1980's at the clinic where they were both been treated for drug addiction. family announced they are launching a foundation in her name to help drug addicts. he will appear in court on wednesday. >> two former chilean ministry officers have been arrested on charges of torturing to death the father of the country's former president. forensic reports show that he
died under torture in prison in 1974. he called himself the armani of mozzarella. now he has been arrested. prosecutors allege that he and his group were in league with the camorra mafia. >> this is gmt from "bbc world news." i am george alagiah. the headlines -- syrian defense minister daoud rajiha is reported to have been killed in a suicide attack on the national security headquarters in damascus. kim jong-un tightened his grip on power, taking on the army's top job. time now for the business news with aaron.
ben bernanke is the boss of the federal reserve in america. he is appearing at the senate today. he was doing so yesterday. he has not got anything pretty to say. >> the big boss of the u.s. central bank basically. he painted a very bleak picture to congress. he basically releases a report card on the state of the economy. george, the report card low like one of mine from primary school. not pretty at all. we know manufacturing has slowed. u.s. consumers are spending less. unemployment remains very high at 8.2%. there were many hoping that he would announce a new round of economic stimulus. he did not. he did say we stand at the ready, but nothing imminent. he basically fired a real warning to congress. he said, "congress, you are in charge, not the u.s. federal reserve." he was referring to this deadlock between republicans and democrats about agreeing to a new budget. they have not done that.
he says that if they do not do that soon, the u.s. economy will slip back into recession with a possibility of another two million jobs lost. for the markets, they are a funny thing. let's have a listen to what the markets want. >> what we want is not bad news, but terrible news. terrible news means the federal reserve does more qe. the more qe there is, the more we will be propped up. the markets are not happy that things are slowing down. they want them to be worse so things can get better. that seems strange, but that's how the markets are working at the moment. >> the markets are holding out with a lot of hope because of the election around the corner. they say they do not want to be seen as political. they may act sooner rather than later. >> i think those last week when we reported on this factory in france closing. it seems like that's something the government does not really want. >> it's not often that we hear
publicly about a government minister basically begging the boss of a big company. that's what's happening in france. the industry minister has called in the boss of the car maker to basically plead with him to not close down this plant outside of paris. we are being told that this so- called pleading will probably fall on deaf ears. the reason is we've already heard from the car maker boss. he said they have no choice but to cut. the reason is because the company was losing $245 million every month. they are making more cars than they can actually sell. they have to cut capacity. for the government, they are trying all sorts of sweetener's. >> a socialist government. >> yes. they're throwing all sorts of measures at this. experts say the measures are too little and certainly too late. >> the government appears to be looking at some very local measures, such as encouraging
french car buyers to buy cars manufactured in france. the problem is that the car industry is very much in international business. the problems will not be solved purely by raising sales in france alone. >> also, the boss has said that other european manufacturers will likely follow suit. >> we will watch that. thank you very much. london 2012 is bound to be packed with astonishing athletes and breathtaking performances. what makes the olympics so great is the history that surrounds it. every day over the next few weeks, we are going to remind you of past games. for our first olympic coast guard, we go back to where the modern games began -- for our first olympic post card, we go back to where the modern games began. >> the glory of greece.
this stadium in the heart of athens was packed for the world's very first modern olympic games. greece was, of course, where the ancient olympics began a little earlier. when the decision was taken at the international conference to revive the games, it was a natural choice to host them here. 14 countries took part, including the u.s. and germany. there was even one athlete from chile that came from their own expense. at the stadium, sports like wrestling. for the swimmers, it was not quite so glamorous. organizers refused to build a special complex. the swimming event took place in the sea. greece took the most medals, 47. the winners also got an olive branch and a diploma. the winner -- the star of the show storm to victory in the
marathon. this impoverished young man suddenly became a national hero. ioc faced pressure to hold all future games in athens. the decision was taken to the event every four years. the modern olympic games were born. they traveled far since these humble beginnings. 1896 in this stadium will always take place in olympic history. >> a reminder of our top story on gmt -- daoud rajiha is reported to been killed in a suicide attack on the national security headquarters in damascus. the free syrian army has claimed responsibility for the attack. the blast occurred during a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior security officials. it is the latest attack and the city and follows four straight days of clashes, what rebels are calling the battle for damascus. our own jim nuir and what entering the situation from